In one scene, Nicole Kidman's character is talking to her mom, who also lost a son years before, to a drug overdose. She looks desperately to her mother for some glimpse into the future, some hope that there is a way to survive the unthinkable.
"Does it ever go away?" she asks her mother.
"No," the mom answers quietly, after a pause. "I don't think it does...It changes, though. At some point it becomes bearable. It turns into something you can crawl out from under and you can carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you even forget it for awhile. But then you reach in for whatever reason, and there it is. It doesn't go away. Which is -- fine, actually."
I understand just what the mom in the film was saying. She was talking about acceptance, of course. I have a somewhat different analogy. I wrote another poem the other day:
Someone said it's like a brick in your pocket.
But I think it's more like a piece of sandpaper held close to my heart.
Some days the friction seems to shred my insides,
all the while smoothing my heart into a better version than I ever could have made on my own.
There are people who completely bristle at the idea that autism is some kind of gift, that God has "chosen" the parents for this special mission or blessing. I can understand their sentiments. I can understand the fury at people handing out pat cliches, when they see their child struggle, when they as parents and as a family struggle. The more serious the autism, the more indignant they feel, the more difficult they find it to see any kind of blessing.
I get this.
All I can say is that this is not the kind of thing you can understand or accept if you see with ordinary eyes. My mom once said this, about not just Andy but about anyone severely handicapped, and their purpose in this world: "They show us unconditional love...and have the ability to draw that love out of others." Sacrificial love. Christ's mission, personified.
I think also of Beth Moore. She said something in The Inheritance study that often rolls around in my mind: "God's purpose for us in this life is not that we would be happy, but that our lives would have meaning."
If we are seeing with temporal rather than eternal eyes, severe disability, autism in it's most difficult form can be too much to bear.
If we are seeing in terms of the way we thought our lives would be, there are truths we will miss.
I don't think God intends autism as His perfect plan, but I know He allows it. Why? Because I prayed my child would not have autism. What do I do with that? What do I do with an unanswered prayer... unanswered at least, at this moment?
Accept this as what is, right now. Put on His eyes and see the gift of my heart turning into something more pure than it would have been, otherwise. See Him at work, even when my son struggles. Sometimes through his struggles. Know that "Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17)